Boosting your Core Results

Written by Libby Norris

Although core training is becoming a more common term, most people still focus on abdominals and traditional ab exercises when they're trying to tone and tighten the mid section.

Don't get frustrated, get smart and strategic about your training. The good news is that you don't necessarily have to hit the gym for extra hours. You do, however, need to do spend some time and put some thought into planning to make sure you have a balanced and effective combination of exercises and training.

There are three areas you need to address if you want results to tighten your body. You need to do cardiovascular training, you need to include resistance training and you need to focus on a healthy eating plan to fuel your body.

To make the most of your training time, here are some tips and exercises that will help you get results without having to go to the gym. What you do need is a written schedule that will help keep you on track, a pair of running shoes, a mat and the will to pursue your dream of firm and flat abs.

Make a HIT! "HIT" refers to high intensity training which involves short periods of intense activity. This is the kind of training done by sprinters and other athletes who need to have explosive power for their sport. You may have had to do "wind sprints" in gym class. These sprint drills can be done in very specific work to rest ratios with a trainer, however, you can do a simplified version on your own by marking a time or a distance. If you are outside, run as fast as you can for two light posts and then jog lightly back. When you're starting out, this seems very tough, but you will get stronger and faster. Try to work up to 10 sprint repeats and then try to increase the distance between 50-100 meters. You can also apply this principle with any cardiovascular activity including stair climbing, skipping or cycling.

Give me 10! Push ups are one of the best total body exercises you can do. Although you tend to feel it in the arms, you are working your chest, shoulders, triceps, back and core muscles. So many people say they can't do push ups, but everyone can if you approach them in stages. Start with supported push ups leaning on a counter top. As you increase your strength, gradually lower the surface you use - move to a chair, a stool and then a step. Once you start doing push ups from the floor, you also have the option of doing them from the knee or the toe. When it doesn't feel challenging to do 10-20 of the version you are currently doing, you know it's time to make a change.

Abs in moderation. Crunches and various abdominal exercises are great to include in any fitness program. Your abs, however, are just like any other muscle group and don't need to be worked every day. For best results, do a variety of abdominal and core exercises 3-5 times a week, leaving adequate time to recover between workouts. Try to include standing abs, crunches and plank positions. Plank exercises are done facing the ground like that of a push up. In this position, your abdominal and core muscles are required to stabilize. Additional movement you do in this kind of position can increase the challenge.

Working on your core area requires more than extra crunches. It takes time, patience and effort with your diet and exercise routine. To ensure consistent results, have a specific schedule for your core workouts and include time for rest and recovery and mix it up as much as you can. Working with different exercises and angles will help keep you motivated and your body challenged.

Always consult your health care professional before making any significant changes in your dietary habits or your physical activity routines.

*©, 2013 Trademark of Kellogg Company used under license by Kellogg NA Co

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